Dark Wave Essentials

Dark Wave Essentials

Dramatic, alluring, and dangerous, darkwave represents a shadowy alliance of styles snaking through underground rock from the ‘70s onward. Born from the doleful post-punk and goth sounds of Joy Division, Bauhaus, and Siouxsie and the Banshees, darkwave established itself as a brooding counterpoint to peppier strains of early-’80s New Wave. Its particulars varied greatly at first, with wiry punk minimalism balanced by opulent synths, but thanks to The Cure and Cocteau Twins, certain standards soon emerged: minor keys, cavernous reverb, and keyboards as plush as a coffin’s red velvet lining. Eighties darkwave channeled widespread Cold War dread, but the fall of the Wall didn’t dispel the gloom. A new generation of bands, like Black Tape for a Blue Girl, explored ethereal atmospheres and theatrical inclinations, while ’00s alt-rock crossovers like She Wants Revenge carried darkwave into the charts. It’s a style as enduring as angst itself.

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